28 Quick Lit Reviews: October 2020 Novel Ideas

October 2020 Novel Ideas

This month was a weird one as I found my children slowly trickling back to school in a hybrid situation.  I was relieved for them to have a bit more of a social outlet (i.e. they could see faces other than our immediate family all day) but I have been more anxious about what that means for their safety.  So far it is going well, with a few little hiccups, but I am preparing for school to return to a fully remote situation by Thanksgiving.   I am trying to use the few hours I have a week to have a little more feeling of normalcy for myself and for me, that means I got to do a little more reading this month.  Kirsten and I also had an incredible night on the 29th when we interviewed the amazingly talented Robert Kolker.  It was truly a night to remember.  So, check out our list of 24 books for the month of October.

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Jackie’s Stack

Magic lessonsMagic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for my Advanced Copy of this book.  I started it the minute I got it but made myself wait until Halloween to finish the book because I wanted to enjoy the book to the fullest.  I absolutely loved this prequel to the amazing Practical Magic.  The  Owens women have a centuries old curse that started with Maria Owens in the 1600s.  With her amazing ability to weave a story, Alice Hoffman has once again written a book captured my heart on the first page.  Part historical fiction and part love story, this book had everything that I wanted from a prequel. 4.5

The only plane in the skyThe Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

Wow. It is hard to put the power of this book into words. Graff crafted the day of 9/11 from hour to hour and  I had a hard time listening to it.  The 45 person cast recreate the day with heart stopping detail. Like everyone, I remember exactly where I was on that day.  Hearing the oral history  told  from first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends and families is unlike anything I have ever seen and should be required for every student in the country.  5 stars

soul of an octopusThe Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

My mom recommended this book to me for a feel good book and it was exactly what I needed.  Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who explores consciousness through amazing stories of animals- particularly Octopuses.  The lives of these shy, amazing animals are unlike any other animal on the planet.  These intelligent animals with such distinct personalities are the backdrop for this wonderful feel-good book.  4 stars

Deadly EducationA Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik

I have read so many good books this month and I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much because of it.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I LOVED this book.  I have never read anything like it and Naomi Novik is a wonderful writer who brings this story to life.  I have never thought of magic in the way that Novik creates it in this book.  For every bit of magic, energy is needed and the user can choose to create the energy or take it.  There are no teachers and no contact from the outside world until you either graduate or die.  El is trying to get through school but unlike the other students, she is fighting her destiny of destroying half the planet with a single spell.  Picture Harry Potter meets the Hunger games.  I loved this dark, funny and well written fantasy.  5 stars.

Invisible girlInvisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell and I was so excited to read this newest installment. The book is told from three points of view. Cate and her family have moved into a new neighborhood while their house is restored. Reports of assaults start to show up in the papers and it puts everyone on edge. Owen is a 33 year old man who lives with his aunt who does not hide her dislike for her nephew. He has never had a girlfriend and is a bit socially awkward. Saffyre is a girl who lives with her uncle. She suffered trauma as a 10 year old and receives years of therapy from Cate’shusband Roan. He never uncovers the truth about her trauma and discharged her from therapy after three years. The story takes a long time to develop and I had a hard time reading Cate’s part of the story because as a reader I wanted to yell at her to wake up. However, once the story really gets going, it is full of twists and turns which are classic Jewell style. Thank you Atria Books for my advanced copy of this book. 3.5 stars

Scones and bonesScones and Bones (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

I had heard of this series and decided to give it a try.  I started with book #12 and had no problem immediately getting into the story.  The characters are quirky and likable even if they are a little bit cliché.  This was such a fun and easy to love cozy mystery.  I have to admit that I was hungry the entire time I read it.  There is delicious food described in detail along with combinations of tea that I would love to try.  The end of the book has recipes that I might have to try as well. 3 stars

agony of the leavesAgony of the leaves by Laura Childs

This is another fun book in the tea shop mystery series.  The characters are fun although I am not sure that I like Theodosia, the main character. And yet, there is something about this series that makes me want to keep reading.  As per the usual, Theodosia gets herself into trouble doing some investigating.  This time, her ex-boyfriend winds up dead and she is sure that it was not an accident.  3 stars

tanglewood tea shopThe Tanglewood Tea Shop by Lilac Mills

Stevie is a patisserie chef who has lost her job and her beloved Great Aunt Peggie.  When she gets a call from her aunts lawyer telling her that she has inherited enough money to start her own shop, Stevie leaves her life in London and moves to Tanglewood to open her own tea shop.  This is a delightful, feel good, romance that had me smiling the whole time I read it.  It was the perfect thing for a rainy weekend afternoon.  Be sure to check out our tea and books post!

the lost queenThe Lost Queen by Signe Pike

I started reading this book and had a really hard time because I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the names.  I had a hard time following the story.  I decided the listen to the book instead and I am SOOO glad that I did.  I absolutely loved this story that is perfect for Outlander fans.  It is interesting that some books relate to a reader so differently depending on how we read them.

one by oneOne by One by Ruth Ware

As a thriller, this book is fast paced and heart thumping as one person after another winds up dead.  As a mystery, I had a problem with the fact that I knew who the killer was from the very beginning.  Where does that leave my feelings on the book?  Right in the middle, I guess.  I enjoyed reading it but I had no surprises.  3 stars

The death of vivek ojiThe Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

I have mixed feelings about this book.  The prose is powerful and the story is engaging; however, I felt that the story moved very slowly . I knew where the book was going and there were no surprises along the way.  I wish that they story had a little more plot rather than just really good writing.  For me, the perfect book has to have both things and for me, this book could have lost me if it was not such a quick read.  3 stars

the invisible life of Addie LarueInvisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Where do I start? I love this book so much. The prose are beautiful, the story is so clever and the audio narration from Julia Whelan is perfect. ⁣Julia is a master and I realized that the last three audiobooks I’ve read and loved were all narrators by her! She brings such a unique voice to every book she narrated. ⁣Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for my copy of this book. ⁣Addie LaRue is trying to escape a life of marriage to a man she doesn’t know or love. She makes a deal with the devil to live a life free and unknowingly gives away the ability to be remembered by anyone. For three hundred years people forget her the minute she is out of sight until she meets Henry. I loved this book from the first sentence. It’s a total must-read. 5 stars

Kirsten’s Stack

The SwitchThe Switch by Beth O’Leary

Thanks to Libro.fm and Flatiron Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I thought I was reading a light-hearted romance about a young woman and her grandmother switching places to reset their lives (and find love.) Instead, I found a story that was more about dealing with grief and finding your own happiness. Yes, there was a little romance, but this book was about heart IMHO. It was a wonderfully heartwarming tale. 3.5 stars.

Cover Your TracksCover Your Tracks by Daco S. Auffenorde

Thanks to the author for my review copy. All opinions are my own. The action starts on page one of this wilderness survival story featuring an ex-army officer and a woman who is 8.5 months pregnant. After an avalanche takes out their train car, they are the last survivors fighting for survival in the snowy mountains. We get to learn more about their backstory and what might actually be drawing them together. My heart was pumping the entire time! I couldn’t put it down. 4 stars.

A Palm Beach ScandalA Palm Beach Scandal by Susannah Marren

Thanks to St. Martins Griffin for my review copy. All opinions are my own. It pains me to write this, but if I had a physical copy of this, I would have thrown it across the room at the end.⁣ I adored A Palm Beach Wife so I was eager to get my hands on a copy of this book. It started off so well, I loved the name-dropping of names and places in Palm Beach. I loved the drama of one-sister being the surrogate for the other in a society that doesn’t like anything out of the ordinary. I loved the twists that happened until about 60%.⁣

At 60% I started getting so mad at Elodie for neglecting her sister (who was carrying her baby), her personality totally dissolved… and then around 80% I wanted to slap her around and give her a stern talking too… and that ending….🤬🤬🤬 I was so beyond pissed. If I could go on an expletive-filled rant I would. ⁣2 stars.

Three Hours in ParisThree Hours in Paris by Cara Black

Thanks to Libro.Fm for my review copy. All opinions are my own. Did you know that Hitler only visited Paris once during the occupation of WWII? I didn’t but I loved this fictional story of why that might have been. It was so refreshing to read story with a badass female spy that actually didn’t need saving from the men in her life. This heart-pumping historical fiction is worth the listen (or read!) 4 stars.

Goodnight BeautifulGoodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Thanks to Harper Audio and Libro.FM for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I was in the mood for a good thriller to go with this month’s reading challenge. I absolutely loved this one. There were many twists and turns that I just did not see coming! I gasped out loud on more than one location as I watched this creepy book unfold. It’s easily one of my favorite thriller books of the year. I did not see the ending coming at all!!! 4 stars.

Maisie DobbsMaisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear

My dad recommended this series to me a million years ago and it’s been on my perpetual TBR ever since. Jackie recently started this series and compared it to Louise Penny, which garaunteed I would immediately pick it up. I love Maisie’s insight into the human psyche, it was very reminiscent of Inspector Gamache without the anxiety inducing parts of the story. 4.5 stars.

16000363Persuasion by Jane Austen

I never read this Jane Austen classic even though she is one of my favorite authors. It wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy the will-they, won’t they of the Captain and his lady. It’s a romance, so I’m sure you can guess the ending. As always, Austen’s wit is on display as she explains life and expectations during the Regency era. 3 stars.

Tea House on Mulberry StreetThe Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

This book is like the movie Love Actually except all the relationships explored in the book are centered around a lovely tea shop on Mulberry Street in London. Explore the love lives of neighbors, clients, and even the owners themselves! I thought it was a sweet story that helps take my mind off the election. 3 stars.

A pocket full of ryeA Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

This book is Agatha Christie at her finest, a layered murder mystery that opens with murder by tea!! If you are a mystery lover, you much read a pocket full of rye. It’s the perfect one-sitting read. Just no poison in your tea, ok? 4 stars.

Dear MartinDear Martin by Nic Stone

Recommended over and over again, I had to listen to this as soon as my library hold arrived. This story of police brutality against two black teenagers reminded me to some extent of The Hate You Give, but as I read it after the events of this summer, the story captured my thoughts in a deeper way. 5 stars.

The NineThe Nine by Jeffrey Toobin

The Scotus confirmation was top of mind when I read this book… Just before Toobin’s scandal. The review below is from my Instagram post and reflects my feelings at the time. Now, I can’t recommend this book.

I feel more knowledgeable than ever about what exactly the Justices do, and just how important their role in our government is.⁣ While this book could have been dry and textbook worth, Toobin’s writing was engaging. I didn’t want to put it down as I absorbed such relevant information about the justices themselves, as well as their more important rulings in recent years.⁣

Clap when you landClap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I adored Elizabeth Acevedo’s last book, With the Fire on High, so I was eager to read her latest book. I liked this one less because I don’t generally like books about the consequences of infidelity. The story was good, but not as engaging as her last. 3 stars.

his only WIfeHis Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

I generally love Reese’s book club picks. This particular one was billed as a Ghanan version of Crazy Rich Asians, a book I adored. I think I was expecting that level of over-the-top gossip and glamour and this book didn’t quite deliver. I wish that comparison hadn’t been made. I did like the story of Afi’s struggles in her arranged marriage, though I did get frustrated by her choices at certain points in the story. 3 stars.

Migrating to Prison

Migrating to Prison by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

I initially picked up this non-fiction book as research for November’s reading challenge prompt. I kept reading because I learned so much about just how much our prison system needs to be reform, how unfair we are as a country to immigrants, and how we need to play close attention to the politics surrounding migrants and their treatment. 5 stars.

you think it Ill say itYou Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

This collection of short stories was a lovely little break in my reading. I’ve long been a fan of Sittenfeld’s work, so I was eager to get to this collection. It was nice to be able to read a story in one sitting for a chance. I think I’ll have to read more short stories in the future, particularly if Sittenfeld is at the helm. 3 stars.

Serpent and DoveSerpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I haven’t read a YA fantasy fiction in quite some time, but man do I need to read more of this genre! I was utterly addicted to this tale of witches and witch hunters. The enemies-to-lovers story gave me all the feels and all the talk of cloaks and spells gave me such fall vibes. 4 stars for sure!

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